By Nick Harris
14 April 2010
With Britain’s three main political parties now having published their election manifesto documents, a sportingintelligence analysis of the sections relating to sport shows that the Labour Party has dedicated more of its space to the subject than either of its rivals: 1.8 per cent of the manifesto. That is the most by some margin, more than four times as much the other parties.
The Labour document is 78 pages long, including the covers, contains 30,755 words including headlines and small print, and 550 of those words deal with sport, or 1.8 per cent of the content.
The corresponding figures for the Conservative Party are 131 pages in total, containing 28,850 words in total (more pages and less words presumably on the basis that a picture speaks 1,000 words and there are lots of pictures). There are 123 words on sport, or 0.43 per cent of the content.
The Liberal Democrats have weighed in with a 112-page manifesto containing 21,600 words (including a detailed index), and of those words, 96 words deal with sport, or 0.44 per cent of the content.
Labour’s “sport coverage” is prominent in Chapter 7 of their document, and focuses heavily on the 2012 Olympics (10 mentions of that word). There is an Olympic pledge that states: “We will ensure that the Olympics are delivered on time and on budget, to the highest standards. Britain will be the first Olympic hosts to create a world-class sports system, from elite level to the grass roots.”
Quite how Britain will be the first Olympic host to create a world-class sports system may puzzle Australians (hosts of Sydney 2000 and well-regarded sporting Titans) and others.
Labour also promises to bring “mutualism to the heart of football” and pledges: “Sports governing bodies will be empowered to scrutinise takeovers of clubs, ensuring they are in the long-term interests of the club and the sport. We will develop proposals to enable registered Supporters Trusts to buy stakes in their club.”
The Tory “sport coverage” takes up a little more than a quarter of a page, on page 39. Again the top theme is the Olympics (four mentions), and the pledge: “We will deliver a successful Olympics that brings lasting benefits for the country as a whole.”
Deeper in the report (page 75, dealing with empowering people), the Tories say: “We will . . . reform the governance arrangements in football to enable co-operative ownership models to be established by supporters.”
The Liberal Democrat “sport coverage” can be found at the bottom of page 44, where there is the paragraph: “We are proud that Britain is hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012, and we support bids for other high-proﬁle events such as the 2018 World Cup – but we believe that grassroots sport is just as important. We will give people from all backgrounds and generations the opportunity to participate in sports.”
There are then two bullet-point policies on sport: “Use cash in dormant betting accounts to set up a capital fund for improving local sports facilities and supporting sports clubs” and “Close loopholes that allow playing ﬁelds to be sold or built upon without going through the normal planning procedures.”
We have repeated all the Lib Dem’s 96 words there.
Fortunately, individual MPs charged with party responsibility in this area are more forthcoming on their commitment to sport than their parties’ manifesto documents, and Labour’s Gerry Sutcliffe and his counterparts Hugh Robertson (Conservative) and Don Foster (Liberal Democrat) have taken the time and trouble to give sportingintelligence answers in more detail to a range of sport-related questions. READ THOSE HERE
We’ll bring you those soon, not to mention tell you who each of them are backing at 2010’s biggest sporting events.